Readers of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books know what happens at the end of Breaking Dawn... or do they? Movielinesat down with director Bill Condon for an all-out, no-holds-barred, spoilery chat about the shocking changes at the end of Breaking Dawn Part II that had fans gasping in theaters around the globe over the weekend — including how the filmmakers decided who lived and who died, and why if you blinked you may have missed the most earth-shattering character fates of them all.
You had just finished the last of the effects prior to release, working on the Renesmee CG. Hers stand out because it’s a kind of CG effect we haven’t seen before — applying Mackenzie Foy’s face to her character from birth to adulthood. How challenging was it to achieve the desired effect?
Bill Condon: You’re building on stuff that was done on The Social Network and Benjamin Button, but it had challenges beyond what they had. She is a special creature — she’s not entirely human — so that helps us, a little bit.
It is a bit uncanny, that CG baby face.
Condon: Yes, I agree.
We briefly see a flash forward to the grown Renesmee, living happily ever after with Jacob once she reaches her full maturity a few years down the road — when Jacob finally gets to date Renesmee.
Condon: Finally, yes! On La Push.
What was the trick to figuring out how to include that happy romantic ending for Jacob and Renesmee without it being creepy?
Condon: Well the thing is, obviously it was controversial the minute it was written. But as a filmmaker you have a great ally in Taylor Lautner, and Taylor was concerned about it. But Taylor is a pure soul. He is able to look at her with love and it doesn’t have another component to it, and I think another actor couldn’t have done that. I think there’s something so essentially sweet about him that it’s a generous love.
You filmed Parts 1 and 2 simultaneously, sometimes having Kristen Stewart play weak, dying Bella in the same afternoon as strong vampire Bella.
Condon: I really do think that Kristen Stewart is amazing, but I feel like in terms of this series she doesn’t get credit for how much she accomplishes. I think if someone were to sit and watch these two movies that we made together at the same time and realize that Kristen shot that all together, it’s just another level of her gift. She was stepping out of her comfort zone, because there was so much Kristen in teenage Bella — and now this was someone who she was just creating. I think Kristen, who’s tough on herself, was able to step out of all that stuff and just really own everything.
Readers of the books have been defending Twilight for years now, understandably; Bella is a passive character early in the franchise, and we only see her grow into her strength in Breaking Dawn.
Condon: That’s right — and she always had this latent power. In the beginning it was the thing that made her remote, but I love the last scene in the movie; it’s such a beautiful idea. It’s the reason he was interested in her the moment that he met her, but it’s such a metaphor for love, that you trust a person enough to let them see inside of you.
You’ve cited the old school Hammer horror films as a tonal reference for parts of Breaking Dawn – in what ways did you hope to capture that feeling?
Condon: When I read this, I always thought that these vampires that get collected from around the world are like the vampires I grew up with. Alistair, that whole crowd — that’s the British hammer vampire. Obviously we’ve got the Draculas. There’s The Awakening in that whole Egyptian culture. So it felt to me even though Alec isn’t part of that, you’re in London in that scene in the alley — God, just go full-out Hammer with this. Even in the costumes and the way we shot it, Michael Sheen with the other guys behind him, it really to me has the feel of a Christopher Lee movie.
I love that, and I love the fact that you’ll now get a lot of Twilight fans Googling “Hammer horror.” Now, which scenes and moments didn’t make the final cut that you wish you could have squeezed in?
Condon: I know fans of the novel are going to be disappointed in this, but Garrett has a big speech on the field, during which the mist comes at him and Bella stops it. It was great to do, and Lee Pace was amazing, but we spent almost a half hour on that field and to spend another five minutes doing something that was a kind of repeat of what she’d already done with Jane’s pain… that was a shame, that was cut. And a couple of other scenes — we did a “Bella training to fight” scene, and that was fun. It’ll be on the DVD. But it just came at the wrong time. Again, it seemed a little redundant of her learning how to use her shield.
Read the full interview at Movieline.